August proved a good month for the Italians. When we finally managed to get a Ferrari 458 Italia on the same bit of UK soil as three supercar rivals (it was meant to be four before the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera went south), the Ferrari took victory, setting up a future showdown with the (now imminent) McLaren MP4-12C.
Then, two weeks later, our cover proclaimed: "New Alfa beats Focus." In our group test of the new diesel Alfa Giulietta, Ford Focus and VW Golf GTD, the Ford was the first to leave the contest. Splitting the VW and Alfa was much more difficult. In the end, author Andrew Frankel concluded: "Think of this outcome like an Ashes tour: if the series is drawn, whoever already has the trophy keeps it, which is what the Golf gets to do here. It really was that close."
The month was more mixed for the Swedes. Volvo should be encouraged that, in our S60 group test, its new executive saloon proved good enough to beat the Audi A4 and showed itself as a credible alternative to the BMW 3-series and Mercedes C-class (even if it ultimately placed lower). Saab, however, would probably rather forget August; our road test verdict said that its new 9-5 was "simply not good enough."
Pebble Beach brought promising news from two old British names. Lotus announced its Type 125, a £650k track car and support package, offering GP2 levels of performance, and Morgan unveiled its Eva 2+2 GT in concept form as a precursor to the production version, which is due in 2012. August also produced a raft of spy pictures of a 'new' Lancia Stratos, based on the running gear of a Ferrari 430 Scuderia.
It was a busy month for our long-term fleet. We waved goodbye to our Audi R8 V10 after a very amusing (and eventful) 10,000 miles. For one last thrash, we took it, and the two other supercars temporarily in our care (Ferrari F430 and Aston Vantage) to Exmoor. At the same time, Hilton Holloway welcomed our new Jag XJ diesel. We also brought you three very different track-based stories. The first involved Alistair Weaver trying 'arrive-and-drive' banger racing, where, for £250, you get a car and all you need to sustain a minor head injury. His advice: "Don't paint a huge target on your car if you want to last more than three laps before being punted off." More practical advice came in our 2010 Tyre Test, which involved 11 different brands of tyre, 14 different tests and a trip to Texas. Vredestein took top honours in the 16in front-drive category and Continental won the 17in rear-drive test. However, the month's biggest thrill came in our What's Fastest? contest, in which we took nine performance cars to Bruntingthorpe to find out which was, well, fastest. Not from 0-100-0mph (as in previous years), but over a standing kilometre. It seemed like a straightforward idea until we discovered that speed at the kilometre marker and the time needed to reach it are very different things. And depending on which you choose, you get a different finishing order. Cue a very healthy debate, but not about our overall winner. Whichever way we cut it, the Noble M600 was king, clocking 173.8mph in 20 seconds dead.